FirstEnergy Headquarters in Akron, OH.
COLUMBUS -- "More bad news for clean energy came last week when the Ohio Power Siting Board unexpectedly derailed approval of an 80-megawatt solar project proposed for Brown and Clermont counties. The distinct departure from standard practice raised alarm and eyebrows among renewable energy supporters because Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo, who also heads the siting board, has had a long career prior to his PUCO appointment advocating for fossil fuel companies and opposing clean energy initiatives.
That same PUCO has tended to favor utilities and disfavor clean energy since long before Randazzo’s appointment as chairman earlier this year. In 2017, it allowed Akron-based FirstEnergy to begin collecting $168 million to $204 million per year in extra charges from customers. It ostensibly was to encourage the company to modernize its distribution system, but the ruling didn’t require FirstEnergy to actually do such work with the money.
The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the surcharges earlier this year but allowed FirstEnergy to keep the $400 million-plus it already had collected, without undertaking any distribution-system improvements.
Another 2017 PUCO ruling undermined clean energy development by limiting how much FirstEnergy could recover from customers for energy efficiency projects — in other words, limiting how much the utility would invest in such projects."
-- This editorial represents the opinion of the Columbus Dispatch editorial board, which includes the publisher, editor, editorial page editor and editorial writers.